Food News and Recipes

Port Barrington's Broken Oar talks restaurant struggles during COVID-19 closures

Broken Oar Marina Bar & Grill in Port Barrington is one of the many restaurants that closed much of its operations because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it still is waiting to fully reopen.

Broken Oar typically employs 150 workers during the summer months, and it currently is operating with fewer than 55, which is fewer than the restaurant operates with in the winter, said Bonnie Miske-Haber, Broken Oar owner and general manager.

With its sister bar, Maverick’s Brew Pub, shut down, there are more expenses that must be covered and less income to cover them. Maverick’s,
4500 Roberts Road, Island Lake, is less than 2 miles from the Broken Oar’s location at 614 Rawson Bridge Road.

“We’ve got a lot of expenses to cover, and that’s part of our problem,” Miske-Haber said. “Out of our two businesses, one of them we are limping through, and the other is completely shut down.”

She said this is the time Broken Oar typically would make the money it loses during the cold months.

“We might take one step backward in the winter, but we take two steps forward in the summer,” Miske-Haber said.

“When this all happened, people were asking me, ‘How did you know that you had to close down?’ From watching TV. A lot of the information we get is just the same that the general public is getting.”

Broken Oar received assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program, but Miske-Haber said she’s worried that it could cause some trouble in the future.

“If you’re not forgiven for a portion of that, then you still have to pay it back,” she said. “You have to be very careful with it because it’s just a loan, and it could put us in more trouble down the road if we use all of it without meeting the qualifications for forgiveness.”

With the uncertainty of when everything will be reopened, Miske-Haber said it is hard to say how much longer small businesses can remain.

“We are the first to close and the last to open,” Miske-Haber said, referring to restaurants.

Broken Oar is offering curbside pickup and delivery options, and it is selling apparel online. For information, visit

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